As usual, first base is an overloaded position chock full of value. In this edition of The Spin, Y! fantasy pundits Scott Pianowski and Brad Evans exchange blows over underrated mid-rounders Billy Butler (ADP: 120.9) and Paul Goldschmidt (145.8). Read. Reflect. And declare a winner in the comments section below.
The Piano Man bats for Billy: The buzzy sophomore is my sworn enemy in fantasy baseball, and with that in mind, I can't stump for Paul Goldschmidt. It's going to be a little messy getting in the way of the Billy Butler/Brad Evans love affair, but I'll take the assignment.
Goldie's power stroke gets your attention and it's nice that he clubbed eight homers when he finally made it to Arizona last year, but there's a ton of batting-average risk with this cat. A whopping 53 strikeouts over 156 at-bats? That's air conditioning. And if Goldschmidt doesn't show something against lefties (he was 6-for-37 against them with the Snakes, tiny sample and all), does Kirk Gibson go against convention and sit the righty a few times a week, force a caddy into the mix? A credible two months does not make you a bona-fide major leaguer.
Butler's become one of those unsexy veterans who no longer forces a wrestling match on draft day, but I'm still intrigued here. You're getting a safe batting average (he's at .291, .318 and .301 over the last three years), durability (only 10 missed games over that span), and run production (two seasons over 93 RBIs, improving Kansas City lineup). And although Butler is primarily a DH these days, we've got your back, gamer: he still carries first-base eligibility in Yahoo's 2012 game.
Butler's power doesn't move the needle at first base, but he's still a pup — he turns 26 in the middle of April. Growth could be on the way. But even if he stays close to the three-year norm he's established, that's enough for me: he's the right pick in this debate. Batting average is a silent killer in roto, one of the most under-appreciated stats. Stick with the Bulldog you know: Butler.
Okay, Bradley, tell us all About Schmidt.
The Noise pans for Gold: Admittedly, this is a cruel exercise. For years, I've harbored inappropriate feelings for Butler, making outrageous predictions about numbers never completely realized. Arms were outstretched. Restraining orders filed. Disappointment felt. Though my man-crush for Blizzy B has only slightly waned there's a new boy toy in the Noise's life.
Holy Schmidt, indeed.
As his last name implies, Goldschmidt will be a precious commodity to own this season. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound masher is a blend of herculean power (419.4 feet/home run average in '11) and surprising speed. Though he'll likely pile up the Ks, most scouts believe his recognition and adjustment skills are better than advertised. Occasional turbulence will occur, but he should produce steady numbers over much of the season, especially within the confines of homer-happy Chase Field.
Last year, Goldschmidt stood out down the stretch. After humiliating Double-A pitchers for most of the season, he bypassed Triple-A en route to an early August big league promotion. His production translated instantly. Over 156 at-bats, he totaled a .250 BA with eight homers, 26 RBIs and 28 runs. He also chipped in four steals. On a per game basis, he ranked in the same tier as roster mainstays Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Rickie Weeks and B.J. Upton. Extrapolate his 2011 effort over 550 at-bats (.250-28-92-90-14), and the rising star is essentially a discounted version of Mike Stanton. Buyers are robbing leaguemates blind at his current pick 145.8 ADP in average mixers. No doubt, he'll be one of the more profitable mid-round picks this year.
Butler will always have a soft spot in my heart, but he is pricier and his sub-.200 ISO (Goldy's in '11 was .224) implies a significantly lower power ceiling. Yes, Billy will hit some 30-40 points higher than the Snake, but the latter will likely match his production in runs and RBIs and greatly outdistance him in homers and steals — two cats outweigh one.
Wait on Goldschmidt a round or three later and you're bound to strike it rich.